Joint meeting brings city, schools closer together | March 21, 2014 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

News - March 21, 2014

Joint meeting brings city, schools closer together

City Council, school board share issues, accomplishments

by Pleasanton Weekly staff

The Pleasanton City Council and school board congratulated the city's two high school "We the People" teams Monday for attaining the top positions in the statewide competition last month.

The Amador Valley High School team took first place comprehensive high school with Foothill High finishing second. Both teams won the highly competitive program in their districts at the local and regional contests.

Members of both teams filled the school board meeting room to receive handshakes of congratulations during a special joint meeting of the council and school board. Each group also posed for photographs after being given certificates of honor.

The Amador team now moves on to the We the People finals in Washington, D.C. next month, the 13th time Amador Valley has represented California in the national competition. The school's team won the nationals in 1995.

Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio, who coaches the We the People team at Irvington High School in Fremont, where she teaches, praised both teams for their hard work and hours of preparation required to successfully compete in the national program.

The We the People celebration came at the start of a two-hour joint meeting of the two Pleasanton government agencies. The two groups meet at least twice a year to discuss issues of mutual interest.

As a unified district, all of the city of Pleasanton is also in the Pleasanton school district, which also includes Castlewood and Happy Valley, which are not part of the city. The southeast corner of Ruby Hill, about 15% -- while a part of Pleasanton -- is actually in the Livermore school district. By agreement, school children who live there attend Pleasanton schools although taxes on those properties go to the Livermore district.

As part of Monday's discussion, Becky Hopkins, Pleasanton's manager of Youth and Teen Services, reported on the "2014 Youth in Government Day" program held last month. She said 49 students representing Amador Valley, Foothill, Village and Horizon high schools spent the day "shadowing" professionals in various city and school district departments, from the city manager and school superintendent's office to the Operations Services Center where water quality is continuously tested and street signs are prepared.

During an afternoon program, the students worked in six-member groups to evaluate what they had seen and also to consider how teenagers might be better served in Pleasanton. Since a long-planned Youth Center has yet to be seriously considered here, the groups recommended renovating and expanding the Amador recreation center behind the Dolores Bengtson Aquatic Center for use as a facility for teenagers.

Hopkins said some of the carry-away messages she had from teens in the Government Day program included:

* "I learned that people in service should be passionate about what they are doing. You should be in it for the right reasons."

* "I will take this lesson with me and use it to guide me to creating my path in whatever career I choose."

* "It would be nice to have an internship or student teaching job for a school."

Council and school board members also heard reports from City Manager Nelson Fialho and School Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi.

Fialho and Planning Director Brian Dolan reviewed recent decisions by the City Council with regard to high-density housing. Fialho said the city was required, by a court order and state housing authorities, to provide more high-density housing for very low, low and moderate income groups, so-called workforce housing, to accommodate those in the city's burgeoning workforce who want to live here but can't find affordable housing.

As a result, the council, on the recommendations of task forces and the city Planning Commission, rezoned 70 acres of available land for high-density housing. Some projects on those acres are now underway while the rest are likely to remain undeveloped for years to come.

Dolan said a task force is evaluating development possibilities for the city's east side, which includes about 400 acres of undeveloped land east of Valley Avenue and north of Stanley Boulevard and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. That planning effort could take another year or more, and then will be reviewed by committees and commissions before going to the City Council for consideration.

In any event, Dolan said development after July 1 will be subject to a new Growth Management ordinance limiting annual construction to no more than 238 units a year.

The council and school board also heard an update by Davis Demographics & Planning, a consulting group, on the school district's 10-year enrollment projections. As reported earlier to the school board, the consulting firm indicated the district will need to open an additional elementary school, the city's 10th, by 2020.

Although the school district owns a school site on Vineyard Avenue, purchased years ago with the intent of building Neal Elementary School to serve Ruby Hill and newer developments in the vicinity, the school was never built.

The demographer's report indicates that there may be a greater need now for an elementary school in or near the Hacienda Business Park, where high-density housing projects are planned.

Ahmadi said the district has hired a property broker to look at possible available sites in Hacienda for a school.

School board member Chris Grant thanked Mayor Jerry Thorne and members of the City Council for setting up the joint meeting.

"We've had decades of collaboration between the city and school district with very good results," Grant said. "With a park next to every school, resource officers protecting our schools and students and joint-use facilities, I believe we have saved millions of dollars together."

"If there are other cities and school districts looking at how to work together, they should look at Pleasanton," he added.


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